10 December 2008
Today’s decision on Herceptin funding for 12 months was well signalled by the National Government and not to deliver on it would be a breach of faith. While recognising this, Women’s Health Action remains disappointed at the decision to fund Herceptin for twelve months before the clinical trials to establish the effectiveness of nine weeks treatment have been completed.
``The real tragedy of this new Herceptin decision is that it denies us the opportunity to establish whether nine weeks treatment would be as beneficial as twelve months. More is not necessarily better, especially with heavy duty cancer drugs with serious side effects. While many other countries are funding Herceptin for a year, common practice is not necessarily good practice. There is no denying that Herceptin has the potential to benefit some women. The hard questions are: how many women, how much drug and for how long?’’
``Pharmac is charged with assessing these things and making the difficult decisions around the best bang for our drug spending buck,’’ says Women’s Health Action Trust director, Jo Fitzpatrick. ``This decision to sidestep Pharmac sends a clear message that a well organised lobbying campaign can bypass the process. The bottom line is that money spent in one area takes it away from others and those with the loudest voices and are not necessarily those with the greatest need.’’